There are several ways that you can recycle or repurpose your old pillows by making them into other useful items.
First things first:
- Always wash and dry your old pillows before recycling or repurposing them.* I recommend washing them in warm or hot water, add 1/2 cup of white vinegar instead of chlorine bleach for whiteness, and wash and rinse on a normal cycle. You can then dry them using low to medium heat.
- Discard discolored, stained or torn pillow casings. Um, no explanation needed here.
- Use a dust mask when handling pillow stuffing just in case you're sensitive or allergic to the fine particles of any of the materials.
- Collect all of the pillow stuffing and put it in a large box or other container so that you can see how much raw and recyclable materials you have.
- Give them to your pet. Save your money! Instead of buying an expensive pet bed, let your pet cuddle or take a nap on the pillow. It will have your familiar scent on it which will be especially comforting to it. If you're feeling really industrious, you can use the pillows to sew a pet bed. Note: Some pets aren't healthy enough, like those with arthritis, to sleep on any old bed. If you're unsure, please check with your vet.
- Re-stuff old worn stuffed animals. Does your child (or pet) have a favorite stuffed toy that's been loved to pieces? You can use the stuffing from your old pillows as new filling to repair these toys. Just open the toy along the seam, add in the stuffing and stitch it back up. You can then wash the toy either by hand or machine, then it'll be as good as new!
- Throw them in the car. Put some old, but clean pillowcases on the pillows and keep them in your car. They can useful for many occasions. Passengers can rest their heads on them on long road trips. If you go on picnics, you can sit on the pillows instead of the hard ground.
- Take them trick-or-treating. Most of you have probably heard of using pillowcases to hold the candy from trick-or-treating. Why not use an unstained pillow covering instead? That way when it gets all sticky and yucky from the candy you won't feel bad about it.
- Use them as packing material. You can use old pillows and pillow stuffing in moving or shipping boxes to keep your fragile items safe. You can also use the stuffing to pack away your Christmas decorations that are breakable.
- Make new pillows. Need new throw pillows? You can always upcycle the material into new throw/decorative pillows. Find some inexpensive fabric with a pretty pattern and use the stuffing from the old pillows in the new ones.
- Give them away. Join your local Freecycle group and offer the old pillows. You never know, someone may need them for their own repurposing project.
Do you have any other ideas for reusing old pillows? I'd love to hear them-feel free to leave a comment.
*Please note: Polyester, latex and down pillows can be laundered in the washer and dryer. Pillows that are filled with cotton, wool or kapok will not keep their shape when laundered, so these should be aired and sunned.
Elena White is the founder and editor of Life The Green Way, corporate sustainability coordinator at her day job, and a "rurban" wife and mother. Learn more about her here and follow her on Twitter at @Lifethegreenway.